There has been a lot of talk about the New York Knicks and their prospects for success this season. Alongside returning cornerstones Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have added Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings this offseason.
This has heightened expectations in New York, and spearheading the team’s attack is the highly talented and athletic Rose. Before Russell Westbrook, Rose was one of the first point guards who captured the league’s attention with his explosive style of play. New head coach Jeff Hornacek has a high-paced offense that puts point guards in positions to succeed (like Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix). Put Rose in that system with a number of offensive weapons surrounding him and it’s not hard to imagine the 27-year-old having a strong season. In order for the Knicks to contend in the Eastern Conference, they’ll be relying heavily on the one-time league MVP.
With Rose positioned within Coach Hornacek’s offense to do what he does best – attack downhill and penetrate the lane – this could free up Porzingis, Anthony and Lee for more perimeter opportunities and easier looks at the basket. Hornacek may also opt to play his two new point guards together at times (as he did in Phoenix), especially since Jennings is a natural scorer and could be paired alongside Rose. There are numerous lineup permutations for New York to consider with this group.
This roster’s potential is creating increased optimism in New York, and the Knicks are hoping that the change of scenery – combined with the added incentive of a contract year – will be the impetus Rose needs to return to form. Playing well this year could enable Rose to secure a very lucrative deal next summer. And Rose’s production may be the X-factor for the Knicks this season, so both sides clearly need this marriage to work, even if just short-term, in order for them to live up to their full potential.
But for all the buzz surrounding the Knicks, we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss Rose’s injury history. Rose has exhibited chronic injury patterns dating back to his initial injury in 2011-12, when he tore his left ACL during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs. Since then, Rose has suffered three major knee injuries and has had three surgeries, causing him to miss 166 of the previous 312 games over the past four seasons. However, there are several tactics that could be employed to generate the performance outcomes that both Rose and and the Knicks desire this season.
One is to have Rose split time with Jennings in the backcourt to minimize the wear and tear on his body and mitigate further injuries. The Knicks could use a strict minute-per-game limit, much like a pitch count, to manage the physical strain on his body throughout the season. This strategy could be effective in saving him for a late playoff push, and allowing Rose to play more minutes per game if the Knicks do get that far. Another approach could be to play Rose off of the ball at times, allowing Jennings to assume more of the point guard duties. This could give Rose a chance to attack from different angles on the court, while leaving Jennings responsible for running the team and keeping Rose fresher for the stretch run.
Another suggestion is to look a little deeper into what may be contributing to Rose’s repetitive injury challenges. One approach some college and professional athletes are beginning to use to eliminate discord associated with injuries are energy psychology performance techniques. These techniques identify and remove blockages within the acupuncture system of a player.
One player with a similar injury history to Rose who benefited greatly from this approach was former Drexel University player Chris Fouch. Fouch, the fifth all-time leader scorer at the school, was forced to suffer two redshirt years because of a series of injuries. In 2013-14, prior to his sixth and final season at Drexel, Fouch went through a four-week program that eliminated blockages causing the guarding, fear of re-injury and lack of trust that he experienced from his past health issues.
“This kid had two major knee surgeries, a broken ankle, a shoulder injury and he was having problems with his recovery,” former Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint said. “The work really helped the kid get over his hurdles, and he had probably one of the most productive seasons of career. It got him to mentally and physically get over the things that really held him back throughout this career. He became one of the all-time leading scorers here at the school. He played a full season; it was the first time in his career that he actually played a full-season at Drexel.”
This same sort of program implemented for Rose could potentially alleviate many of the same sorts of guarding and fear-of-re-injury sensations that Fouch experienced, giving Rose the chance to take his game to the next level this season.
As the Knicks gear up for 2016-17, a hybrid approach that regulates minutes played and usage within offense while also eliminating discord from past injuries could be key for Rose. Doing so could unleash the dynamic playmaker we’ve all seen Rose can be, which could allow the Knicks to make serious noise in the Eastern Conference for the first time in a while.
After playing four years of college basketball at Drexel University, Jake Rauchbach earned an MBA from Drexel and a masters in The Psychology of Human Movement from Temple University. He coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes.
Rookie of The Year Watch – 12/13/17
Shane Rhodes checks back in on what’s become a relatively consistent Rookie of the Year race.
It has been a pretty ho-hum Rookie of The Year race so far in the 2017-18 season, with the top rookies staking their claims to this list at the beginning of the season and, for the most part, staying there. While there has been some movement up and down over the season and since our last installment, for the large part those who were on the list remain on the list.
Those players have earned their spots on this list with their play, however. This rookie class is one of the better, more exciting classes in recent memory. These players have just managed to remain at the top of the hill.
Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings.
By virtue of John Collins missing time due to injury, Markkanen jumps back onto this list. However, that’s not to say Markkanen has played poorly this season. On the contrary, the former Arizona Wildcat and current Chicago Bull has played very well; it’s just hard to get recognized when you are on the worst team in the league.
Markkanen is averaging 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, third and second among rookies, respectively, while adding 1.3 assists per game as well. Athletic enough to get his own shot and big enough to be a mismatch when he’s on the floor, Markkanen is probably the best (healthy) offensively player the Bulls have. While his defensive game isn’t great, his defensive rating of 106.4 still ranks ninth amongst rookies.
Perhaps most importantly, Markkanen inspires hope for a brighter future in Bulls fans that have watched the team plummet from the 50-win team it was just three seasons ago.
His shooting percentages continue to underwhelm and the Dallas Mavericks still have one of the worst records in the NBA, but Dennis Smith Jr. has been one of the Mavs’ bright spots this season while averaging 14.4 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.
While he hasn’t been a great shooter overall, Smith Jr. has managed to be a big contributor on offense for the Mavs, with an offensive rating of 101.4, ninth among rookies, and an assist percentage of 25.2 percent, fourth among rookies. He is second on the team in scoring behind Harrison Barnes’ 18.4 points per game as well. He is still a work in progress, but Dallas has found a keeper in Smith Jr.
4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers (Last Week: 3)
While the Lakers have stumbled over the past few weeks, Kuzma continues to play well when he is on the floor. He still paces the Los Angeles Lakers in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game, third among rookies, while also dishing in 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Kuzma is now second among rookies in double-doubles with eight on the season and three in his last five games. With a diverse offensive game, the power forward should continue to impress as the season goes along.
Donovan Mitchell has been electrifying in recent weeks. Second in scoring among rookies, Mitchell is averaging 17.3 points per game to go along with three rebounds and 3.2 assists. As his confidence has grown, so to have his field goal percentage and three-point percentages. Mitchell has led the Utah Jazz in scoring in 11 of their 27 games, and is second on the Jazz in scoring too, behind Rodney Hood’s 17.7 points per game.
Mitchell became the second rookie ever, first since Blake Griffin in 2011, to score more than 40 points in a single game after going for 41 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Coupling that with his high-flying athleticism, Mitchell has been one of the best rookies to watch this season.
Jayson Tatum is on pace to be only the second rookie ever to lead the league in three-point percentage. In over 38 years, the only other player to do it was Anthony Morrow, who shot 46.7 percent on 2.7 attempts per game during the 2008-09 regular season. Tatum is currently shooting 50 percent on over three attempts per game.
The 19-year-old forward has also made a near seamless transition from the isolation-dominated basketball that he played at Duke, and has flourished as the third, fourth and sometimes even fifth option on offense, having scored in double digits in 25 of 29 games and averaging 13.8 points per game on the season. His defense continues to be better than advertised as well.
Tatum has been Mr. Clutch among rookies as well. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, Tatum has 14 field goals on 21 attempts, seventh in the entire NBA and tops among rookies. In fact, Tatum is the only other rookie in the top 15 in clutch field goals.
While Mitchell has been on fire recently, Tatum has performed well enough to this point where he is still in control of the number two spot among rookies. But the race for this second spot is close and will continue to be close throughout the season. The race for the number one spot on the other hand? Not so much.
It would make for a very boring race if Ben Simmons remained at the top of this list for the entire season. And it looks increasingly likely that that is going to be the case.
Try as they might, the other rookies just can’t hang with Simmons; none of them have the right combination of production and physicality to keep pace with the point-forward. Tatum has been better than advertised while Mitchell and Kuzma have exceeded all predraft expectations, but none of them can produce what Simmons has. With averages of 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game, Simmons would be just the second rookie in NBA history, the first since Oscar Robertson during the 1960-61 season, to finish the season with that stat line.
So, unless they combine their powers to become a being with superhuman basketball skills, the other rookies don’t stand a chance against Simmons in the race for Rookie of the Year.
NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17
Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.
A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.
Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.
The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.
A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.
The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.
This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.
There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.
As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.
So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.
Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.
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